On the 28th, out of nowhere we get a day with some sunny bits in between the rain showers, and it's actually quite warm. For Dad it’s a chance to break in the enormous felling axe, splitting the 'rounds' of the sawn up Leylandii and generating oodles of nice logs for when Summer's over and it's wet and windy again (!)
Local old boy John Deere Bob seems to have adopted Mum and Dad as new residents worth cultivating and is now our most frequent visitor. His only 'car' is the old John Deere tractor which he put-puts around the village on, into the local bigger-village (Lough Glynn) to the Post Office, and into nearby town Ballaghaderreen for his shopping. Mum and Dad are working away mid morning-ish and we hear him chugging up the lane and we pause to see will he turn in or is he off to see near-neighbour Una, one of his other tea-stops. If he slows and turns up the drive, Mum nips to get the kettle on and find the fig rolls. Bob parks the tractor in front of the house and shuffles in in his farmboots and black Thinsulate hat, sitting in 'his chair', settling down for a good aul' chin wag.
He's a real charmer with twinkly eyes, a quiet soft voice and a lovely laugh. He has a deep knowledge of things local, things rural and Irish History. He loves to compare notes on history books with Mum , who is also versed in these things (no good to Dad! Even UK history whizzes over his head like pensions and VAT, barely clipping the ends of his hairs!). They talk of the Civil War and the Uprising, and of T.D.s (= M.P.s) and politics, constituency changes, but also of local stuff like the 1901 and 1911 census data etc. He usually passes comment on whatever jobs Mum and Dad are doing. In Dad’s case today, he gives us some tips on how/when to use the splitting axe and what types of wood to burn in the range and on the fire. He checks our progress on extracting the horse-drawn hay-rake and tells us all about the soil and the 'sausage-turfs' we found there. He tells us of raised beds and vegetable growing techniques. Then he goes away again, checking his watch and deciding to chug gently on, on his rounds on the John Deere. Lovely old bloke!
Mum and Dad head for county town Roscommon to explore, just because they've never been. The town centre has an Easons (good book shop) but not much else to attract them back - rather too many pubs, clothes shops, betting shops and boarded up abandoned lets. It smacks of a place where the landlords did not react quickly enough to the dip and as a result now have nobody paying them rent instead of letting the poor hard pressed shop keepers away with reduced rent. No. We will keep passing through as it's on our way to the In-Laws, but we'll stick to the 'by-pass' and the business park bits.
There is a lovely patch of sunshine in the evening, so we're out on the new (concrete) sun deck to watch the sun sink.
Friday 29th sees us up early. Mum is urgent, up-and-dressed by crack of sparrow's and saying "I want go to a garden centre NOW!" She'd found a promising one out Boyle way (Co. Rosco still but only just) called Ardcarne, 25 mins away in the car. It turned out to be wonderful and Mum and Dad rattled gently through €80+ in fairly short order taking in some special offers on fruit bushes and the "knackered and half dead" racks (They aren't called that by the shop, but Mum and Dad delight in buying unpromising plants cheap knowing they can rescue them due to being good experienced gardeners. New and properly priced stuff also found its way onto the trolley - a dahlia, more roses, some Iberis sempervirens, a yellow flag iris for the bit we'll leave boggy and various seeds and bulbs. All this retail therapy is a happy result of buying a garden which is part chest high brambles, nettles and weeds, and part former cattle yard but in no part clean cultivated tilth.
Mike the Cows drops by with his young son Fintan to nosey on our progress and talk lumber-jacking and logging, fences, the village, holidays, Dublin Prices, getting his kids to a Westlife concert and all manner of other subjects. Mum, Dad and Mike looked a right aul' group of rustics putting the world to rights; Mike in his farmer boots, torn jeans and big ol' beer belly, Mum in battle-scarred waxed jacket and green wellies and Dad in even more disreputable Barbour 'gillet', painty, buildery tan-coloured jeans and (gasp) sandals and socks (highly illegal but Dad was in a rush to get out there). Mike can talk for Ireland but he's always a good laugh.
And so to Mum's big long meaty ribs and noodly stir-fry. The red wine's called "Working Dog". Last night we were not, for once, working like dogs.